CSKA Moscow remains the only team unbeaten in Group C after topping Ulker 82-87 on the road in Istanbul, Turkey, on Wednesday night. CSKA is the uncontested Group C leader at 4-0, while either Tau or Benetton will improve to 3-1 to keep the second spot in the standings. Meanwhile, Ulker dropped to 1-3 by registering its third consecutive loss. J.R. Holden led the winners with 18 points that came largely at the foul line, where he made 12 of 13 free throws. David Andersen added 15 points for CSKA, hitting 6 of 8 two-pointers, while Antonio Granger and Dimos Dikoudis each had 14 points. Marcus Brown scored 8 of his 12 points in the final 4 minutes of the game when Ulker got as close as 70-72. Eurelijus Zukauskas had 13 points, 10 of them in the opening period, and 8 rebounds for Ulker. Serkan Erdogan added 12, Dion Glover 11 and Tutku Acik 10 for the hosts. CSKA used a 0-11 opening run in the second period to take the lead for good, and even when Ulker got back in the game by overcoming a 15-point deficit, Brown and Holden took over in the final 3 minutes to seal CSKA's victory.
The game started with great intensity, as Andersen blocked the opening shot by Saulius Stombergas, while Zukauskas rejected Brown's layup attempt in the other end. CSKA looked for Andersen early in the game, and he followed a mid-range jumper with a put-back layup for a 4-4 tie. Ulker had good ball circulation, as Erdogan's jumper was good for an 8-7 lead with 4 different players already having scored for the hosts. Andersen drilled 2 free throws to put CSKA back on top, but the guests had already started to struggle on offense. Meanwhile, Zukauskas was rebounding at both ends of the floor, as well as scoring twice near the basket and adding a dunk for a 14-11 Ulker lead. The hosts' defense limited CSKA to just 2 points in 4 minutes, forcing coach Dusan Ivkovic to call timeout. CSKA got back in track with a layup by Dikoudis and a mid-range jumper by Holden. Stombergas added his third basket but Brown fired back to bring CSKA within 20-17 after 10 minutes. Ulker made 10 of 12 two-pointers in the opening period.
CSKA turned the game around early in the second quarter. Dikoudis followed Andersen's jumper with a three-point play to start a 0-11 run capped by Holden's basket-plus-foul which gave CSKA a 20-28 margin. Ulker went scoreless for 3 minutes until Erdogan popped a mid-range jumper, which Andersen answered right away. The hosts had trouble finding shots near the basket, while everyone but Erdogan was off-target. Ulker was also fouling a lot, and entered the bonus early. Holden took advantage by drilling 6 of 6 free throws for a 27-36 CSKA margin. Kerem Gonlum tried to awaken the crowd with 6 quick points, including a dunk, while Glover brought Ulker within 33-38 after 17 minutes. CSKA used its reserves to hold the lead as free throws by Aleksey Savrasenko and Martin Muursepp, plus a big basket by Theo Papaloukas, powered the guests to a 35-43 halftime lead. Despite being effective for two-point range, Ulker made just 1 of 11 three-pointers and 2 of 9 free throws in the half.
CSKA tried to put the game away after halfitme as Muursepp scored 5 quick points and Dikoudis added a basket to extend CSKA's lead to 38-50 after 22 minutes. Erdogan fired back from downtown, but even with that, Ulker still struggled to score. Meanwhile, Muursepp, Dikoudis and Antonio Granger attacked the basket to boost the guests' margin to 43-56. Soon, Papaloukas followed Granger's three with yet another layup for CSKA's biggest lead so far, 46-61. Glover tried to bring his team back with 4 quick points, but Granger stepped up once again from downtown, forcing an Ulker timeout, after which an exchange of baskets left CSKA in charge still, 55-67, after 30 minutes.
Ulker needed good defense now, but Dikoudis drilled a three-pointer in CSKA's opening possession of the final period. The hosts did not surrender, however, as Virginijus Praskevicius answered from beyond the arc while Glover added a layup for a 60-70 Ulker deficit. CSKA now had trouble finding the basket, as Papaloukas committed 2 quick turnovers, while Tutku Acik made a three to cap a 8-0 run which made it a seven-point game at 63-70. CSKA called timeout, but the guests continued to struggle, going scoreless for almost 5 minutes, while antoher Praskevicius triple and Glover's layup brought Ulker even closer, 70-72. CSKA needed a go-to guy and Brown stepped up like the true leader with a three-pointer and an assist to Andersen near the basket. Those points extended CSKA's edge to 70-77 with 3 minutes to go. Ulker came from a timeout now looking for a quick comeback, but Holden and Brown combined for 9 free throws before the final buzzer, enough to preserve for CSKA to a difficult road win in Group C.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004